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[dih-ten-shuh n] /dɪˈtɛn ʃən/
the act of detaining.
the state of being detained.
maintenance of a person in custody or confinement, especially while awaiting a court decision.
the withholding of what belongs to or is claimed by another.
of or relating to detention or used to detain:
the detention room of a police station.
Origin of detention
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin dētentiōn- (stem of dētentiō), equivalent to dētent(us) detained (past participle of dētinēre; see detain) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
nondetention, noun
predetention, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for detention
  • But when many of these soldiers wrote home, they addressed their letters to detention centers.
  • Arbitrary detention is common in both town and country.
  • Her detention on corruption charges has made her more popular than ever.
  • Both the country's leading civilian politicians are in detention.
  • But the leaders of the three biggest political parties are now all in detention.
  • He said the instructor had told him his language was unacceptable and ordered him to detention.
  • And he promised an end to rendition and indefinite detention.
  • On satellites and bombs and detention camps and fancy ceremonies and expense accounts, their wishes are ignored.
  • The detention center is emptier than it was a few years ago.
  • In exchange for his testimony, and as a result of good behavior, the feds had eased the terms of his pretrial detention.
British Dictionary definitions for detention


the act of detaining or state of being detained
  1. custody or confinement, esp of a suspect awaiting trial
  2. (as modifier): a detention order
a form of punishment in which a pupil is detained after school
the withholding of something belonging to or claimed by another
Word Origin
C16: from Latin dētentiō a keeping back; see detain
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for detention

mid-15c., from Middle French détention (13c.), from Late Latin detentionem (nominative detentio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin detinere (see detain). Sense of "confinement" used by 1570s (in reference to Mary Queen of Scots). In reference to school punishment, recorded from 1882.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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